Modern Manufacturing Requires Modern Training
Mark Atwater posted on March 24, 2014 |
National hubs seek to simultaneously create new technology and educated workers.

Manufacturing has undergone a number of changes over the past few decades. Trends such as automation and outsourcing have seriously impacted the workforce even without a down economy. Even as the Great Recession begins to fade away, the manufacturing sector still clearly sees the lasting effects.

Manufacturing is changing and so must training. A new institute has been launched to modernize training in advanced manufacturing, specifically in lightweight metals. The engineering of lightweight and sustainable products has been central to new innovations which reduce energy consumption, but these new technologies often require new approaches.

To address these new skills and prepare workers for the future of manufacturing, a consortium of universities, companies and nonprofits will establish a $148 million high-tech manufacturing research institute. The project is being led by the University of Michigan, The Ohio State University and EWI, an Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit.

The Lightweight & Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I) Institute will be located in Detroit, but the resources and benefits will be distributed much farther. The effort is estimated to create 10,000 jobs over the next five years, mostly in the metal stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries that are dominant in the Midwest region.

The goal is to provide modernized training and education to prepare the next generation of materials and manufacturing engineers. The demand for lightweight metals such as aluminum, titanium and high-strength steels is growing, but the processing technology of these materials still needs further optimization.

This LM3I Institute is part of a broader manufacturing initiative, the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). This network is to be comprised of “regional hubs that will accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products.”

This Federal effort also involves an already established National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) in Youngstwon, Ohio (now America Makes) and is planned for expansion with the Next Generation Power Electronics National Manufacturing Innovation Institute (Raleigh, NC) and Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation (DMDI) Institute (Chicago, IL).

To be competitive, manufacturing relies on innovation. These institutes are looking to address innovation by speeding progress from discovery to production, but also critical is that they also seeking to ensure that production can be done without going overseas. Rapidly incorporating laboratory innovations into classroom instruction is key to making that a reality.

The video below, put out by the Department of Defense, discusses how the LM3I impacts government interests.


Photo courtesy of Precision Group

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